The international break seems as good a time as any to reflect upon the Dream Team season so far.
Generally we prefer to heap praise upon the best-performing players but it would remiss to ignore the under-performers since they have undoubtedly shaped thousands of mini leagues countrywide.
So please excuse the negativity but let’s run through the five most disappointing assets of 2021/22.
Before we get into it, we should say that this is based on current points versus pre-season expectations.
For example, Robin Koch (£0.5m) is the outright worst player in Dream Team right now but the vast majority of gaffers would never have considered him a viable option anyway.
We’re also going to give a pass to players who have been particularly unlucky with injuries, such as Patrick Bamford (£3.6m), as it would be unfair to blame them for something beyond their control.
Now that’s clear, let’s crack on…
5 Jordan Pickford (£1.5m)
In fairness to the 28-year-old, he’s actually been one of Everton’s better performers this season but the nature of Dream Team means any keeper who concedes plenty of goals will be punished.
The Toffees have somehow ended up in a relegation battle this season and so it stands to reason that Pickford has mustered a measly 16 points at this late stage.
Few expected Everton to be as bad as they have been in recent months and their No1 was actually a relatively popular selection off the back of his impressive showing in England colours at Euro 2020.
In fact, he’s still more popular than Hugo Lloris (£3.0m), Vicente Guaita (£2.8m) and Lukasz Fabianski (£2.9m) and but the stark reality is that 23 keepers are above him in the rankings, including the trio just mentioned.
4 Caglar Soyuncu (£1.7m)
The Turkey international was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year in 2019/20 – and deservedly so!
Unfortunately for Leicester, the 25-year-old’s form has dropped off a cliff since then – he’s been a liability for most of the current term.
The Foxes have conceded far too many goals (46 in the league alone) in 2021/22 for a team of their standard and while they’ve been unlucky with injuries, the performances of those fit and available must also be scrutinised.
Soyuncu’s blood-and-thunder style is mightily effective when he’s on song but he looks clumsy and error-prone when off the boil.
He’s scraped together just 35 points this season – an average of one per game.
3 Jack Grealish (£4.2m)
It may seem harsh to include Man City’s No10 on this list considering he’s got considerably more points than the other players mentioned.
However, his tally of 76 is way short of what a huge chunk of Dream Team bosses expected from him.
Last season, he was among the top five midfielders for weeks on end before injury curtailed his campaign.
So when he signed for the team who have produced the most points in recent years off the back of a Euro 2020 campaign that earned him a lot of good will, it seemed likely he’d compete for the crown of top midfielder in 2021/22.
However, 32 midfielders have outscored Grealish to this point including Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (£2.5m), Jordan Henderson (£2.2m) and Mohamed Elyounoussi (£2.9m).
Incredibly, he’s still the fifth-most popular asset in his position!
Pep Guardiola recently defended his player by criticising the emphasis placed on stats in the modern game and while it’s true that Grealish has positively influenced games without registering goal involvements, concrete attacking output is what fuels successful midfielders in the realm of Dream Team.
The 26-year-old has scored four goals and provided three assists in 28 appearances which is streets behind the likes of Riyad Mahrez (£7.1m) and the other top dogs in his position.
2 Harry Maguire (£3.1m)
The Man United captain’s concerning form has been under a microscope for a few months now.
Imperious in England colours, Maguire has frequently been exposed at club level and has contributed to the Red Devils’ tally of 40 league goals conceded this season – Crystal Palace, Brighton and Burnley all boast better defensive records at this stage.
It’s easy to forget that the ex-Leicester centre-back finished last season as one of the top-performing defenders – he racked up more points than Ruben Dias (£4.5m), Antonio Rudiger (£4.8m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.6m).
This term, he’s clobbered together just 47 points after 29 Game Weeks and finds himself behind the likes of Michael Keane (£2.6m), Matt Targett (£2.8m) and Ethan Pinnock (£2.1m) in the rankings.
1 Luke Shaw (£2.7m)
Much of what applied to Maguire is also relevant to Man United’s left-back.
Admittedly, Shaw was sidelined with injury for a while but that doesn’t excuse his miniscule points total of 37 as he’s averaged just 1.4 points-per-game when fit.
The 26-year-old was by far and away the most-popular defender ahead of Game Week 1 and it’s understandable why.
After Bruno Fernandes (£5.1m), he was arguably his club’s best player in 2020/21 and he was definitely one of England’s best performers as the Three Lions finished as runners-up at Euro 2020 – he even scored in the final.
Most Dream Team managers expected him to rack up plenty of assists on top of regular clean sheets, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo (£7.4m) to aim for in the middle.
But it just hasn’t clicked for Shaw this season and while his individual performances haven’t been scrutinised as much as Maguire’s, from a Dream Team perspective, he’s been a total flop.